The Golden State Warriors are going to be short-handed for a second road game in Denver this week, but at least this time they’re bringing all their starters.
Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala remain out tomorrow in Denver.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) March 10, 2022
Porter has been out since his 10/10 double-double against the Lakers on Saturday, officially suffering from “general illness,” which is the 2022 way to say “Don’t worry, it’s not COVID-19.” GP2 is suffering from knee soreness, which has kept him out since last Thursday’s game against Dallas. Iguodala has a sore back, and hasn’t played since a six-minute appearance against Oklahoma City on February 7th, which was itself his first game since he played 31 minutes in an overtime loss to Indiana on January 20th. Not coincidentally he racked up his highest minutes total of the season in that game, and hasn’t taken the court since.
It’s likely the Warriors are being cautious with their veterans in part because of the controversial re-scheduling of December’s road game in Denver, which has led to two separate trips to the Mile High City in four days, sandwiched around a home game. Simply for altitude reasons, it makes sense not to make sick and injured players fly out for one game. Rotation-wise, this means another opportunity for the young guys - particularly Moses Moody and Jordan Poole, who went for 30 and 32 points respectively in Monday’s loss to the Nuggets, where the Warriors were missing these same three players, plus Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins.
Counting two-way players Chris Chiozza and Quindarry Weatherspon, the Warriors will have 12 available bodies for tonight’s game against the reigning MVP, which feels like an embarrassment of riches compared to Monday’s short-handed squad. Let’s just say that Chiozza probably won’t play 29 minutes again. The loss of Porter also means that rookie Jonathan Kuminga will be thrown into the fire to battle Nikola Jokic again. It’s his last chance before the playoffs to avenge Jokic’s game-sealing block on him from December.
If they survive the Joker, the young Warriors don’t get much of a break, facing the 2019 and 2020 MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with the rest of the defending champion Bucks. Hopefully Payton is taking ice baths and Porter is chugging Emergen-C, because the Warriors will need every quality defender they have in their final game before Draymond Green’s return.